Family, friends honor life of cerebral palsy victim
The Haines ANB Hall filled to capacity Sept. 9 for Jeremy Hanes’ memorial service, which included a poem written by his stepfather Wayne Price, songs, and Native drumming.
Hanes, 20, died at home Sept. 6 of complications from severe cerebral palsy. The birth defect had left him without use of his arms, legs, or voice. “He communicated with others by using body language, eye gaze, and intuitive skills,” said mother Cherri Price.
Longtime caregiver Michael George said Jeremy was one of the happiest and most attentive people he knew. “He could almost read your mind; he was so aware and keen of his surroundings. He would hear a conversation in another room and start laughing and you wouldn’t even be aware of it.”
“Jeremy was an extremely intelligent young man who despite his disabilities had a terrific outlook on life. To see him persevere with such good humor made us realize we have nothing to complain about,” said Haines School superintendent Michael Byer.
Hanes learned to “talk” using a device on his motorized wheelchair on which he recorded comments made by others that he could select and broadcast. Byer said Hanes asked him to record, “Hey dude, step aside, I’m coming through,” which he played as he wheeled down the hall.
Jeremy Hanes was born in a cabin on Rainbow Lake, N.J. on Oct. 17, 1991. Parents Cherri Rakers and Bob Hanes moved to Haines in 1994. He was homeschooled before attending Haines Middle School, Haines Christian School, Mosquito Lake School and Haines High School.
“Jeremy loved learning and its environment,” Cherri Price said. He also was in classes at Thunder Mountain High School, had a girlfriend, and was best man at a friend’s wedding, she said. He returned home to attend Haines High School.
“Words were his toys,” Cherri Price said. He liked word games and rhymes, being read to, and museums. He especially enjoyed Tlingit drumming circles at the family’s Officers’ Row home and art studio, she said.
Price credited a creative community for enabling Jeremy to lead a full life. His wheelchair was loaded into pick-ups, skiffs, and bush planes. “He was pushed up mountain trails, on shores of remote beaches, and camped on an island in the Yukon River with dugout canoe carvers,” she said.
He listened to KHNS, chose music during radio shows, and enjoyed events at the Chilkat Center and library. Hanes was adopted into the Tlingit culture in 2007 as a Raven from the Klukwan Frog House, and given the name Ya Koske Eek or Wise Little Brother.
Cherri and Wayne Price said they consider Jeremy’s family to be the many people who loved and cared for him. Her son’s release of a rehabilitated bald eagle into the wild during the eagle festival was a “a powerful and sacred experience,” Cherri said. Memorial donations may be made to the American Bald Eagle Foundation, P.O. Box 324.